Founded in the fall of 2001 as a way to archive music journalism, the subscription-based rocksbackpa
Rock’s Backpages podcast started as a way to shed light on the articles and audio clips added to the site every few weeks in a 10-20 minute conversation between editorial director Barney Hoskyns and chief archivist/production director Mark Pringle. With the addition of marketing/communications manager Jasper Murison-Bowie, the podcast quickly expanded into a one hour plus format that includes guests (usually, but not limited to journalists) on every episode telling personal anecdotes about their lives in music.
Guests have included former music writer-turned-rockstar Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys (episode 63) telling the story of how he was so nervous when he interviewed Marc Bolan of T. Rex in 1975 that he didn’t turn on his tape recorder (Bolan did it for him), and Disc and Music Echo reporter Caroline Boucher (episode 94) recounting Richard Branson’s attempt at signing Captain Beefheart to Virgin, and botching it by mentioning his intention of also signing Beefheart’s nemesis Frank Zappa. One of the more notable stories to come out of Rock’s Backpages podcast early on was NME journalist Keith Altham (episode 21) describing the time he spent traveling from the UK to the Monterey Pop Festival with Jimi Hendrix and how he convinced the soon-to-be legend to set his guitar on fire, arguably altering the course of popular music.
“From the beginning we wanted it to be personal,” says Jasper Murison-Bowie. “We wanted it to be a conversation addressed to an individual listener on friendly terms with an eavesdropping style. It’s great to see how far we’ve come. We started getting guests on and that’s been super. A hundred episodes later, here we are having a good laugh.”
The base for rocksbackpages.com has been growing steadily over the last score, with individual subscribers plus more than 230 universities, libraries and other institutional subscriptions providing potential access to more than 15 million people behind the paywall. The articles contained therein cover a wide spectrum of styles – from hip-hop to jazz, rock to electronica – and cover a massive swath of time. The earliest article is dated 13 May 1948 (a T-Bone Walker and Jimmy Witherspoon concert covered in The California Eagle by J.T. Gipson) and the most recent articles are from 2021, including pieces on Aretha Franklin (Tony Scherman, PopMatters), Kamasi Washington (Jeff Tamarkin, Reflex) and Tina Turner (Simon Warner, unpublished). A meticulous system of profit sharing is in place for authors who have multiple works on the site. RBP is an invaluable resource for researchers, students, teachers, fellow music journalists and musicians, including a few household names.
Rock’s Backpages is hallowed insurance that all those hard-won interviews, priceless rarities, and cultural snapshots will live forever in one grand gallery. It’s one of the best rabbit-holes in rock.” – Cameron Crowe
“Reading rock articles was a crucial part of my education, formation and inspiration. The great thing about Rock’s Backpages is that it’s done by experts, by people who’ve got a feeling for it. For me it’s definitive.” – Johnny Marr
ABOUT THE HOSTS OF ROCK’S BACKPAGES PODCAST:
Barney Hoskyns Editorial Director
A writer and editor for over 30 years, RBP co-founder Hoskyns is also the author of many books, including Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons, the Tom Waits biography Lowside of the Road, Trampled Under Foot, an oral history of Led Zeppelin, and Small Town Talk, a history of the music scene in Woodstock and Bearsville. A former U.S. correspondent for MOJO, Hoskyns has contributed to Vogue, GQ, Rolling Stone, Spin, Harper’s Bazaar, Uncut and many other titles. Thoughts of Chairman Barney can be found (and books bought) at barneyhoskyns.com
Mark Pringle Chief Archivist and Production Director
RBP co-founder Pringle has a chequered past including a stint as a musician with mid-’80s retro soul outfit Hot House; graphic designer; portrait photographer. In 2003 he curated Yes Yes Y’all, an exhibition about the first decade of hip hop (’72-’83) and, these days, when he’s not covered in 50-year-old newsprint (it never dries) he now plays Free Rock™ with drummer pal Tom Fenner.
Jasper Murison-Bowie Marketing and Communications Manager
Jasper has written about jazz, funk and electronic music for Under City Lights and The Playground. While studying philosophy at University College London, Jasper hosted a radio show, Making Waves, about the genre future bass, which ran for three years. As a saxophonist and pianist, Jasper has played in venues including the Adelphi Theatre, the Bishopsgate Institute and Camden People’s Theatre. In 2015, he held a residency at Tredwell’s restaurant in Covent Garden, playing jazz and freely improvised music. He has also spent some time behind the decks at clubs in Oxford. His photography, writing and music can be found at jasperbowie.com
ABOUT ROCK’S BACKPAGES:
Rock’s Backpages, which launched in the fall of 2001, is the world’s most comprehensive online database of pop music writing, a unique resource unavailable elsewhere online. It contains an ever-expanding collection of primary-source full-text articles from the music and mainstream press from the 1940s to the present day, along with a collection of exclusive audio interviews.